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U.S. gasoline demand soars

Consumers take to the road as the price at the pump stays relatively low.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Gasoline demand in the United States at peak levels as consumers take advantage of low prices at the pump, data show. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/1da38a44a16dd2e65be03a2b95c06ecd/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Gasoline demand in the United States at peak levels as consumers take advantage of low prices at the pump, data show. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- U.S. gasoline demand reached the highest levels since record-keeping began as consumers took advantage of lower prices, a petroleum group said.

The American Petroleum Institute published data for March that show total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, increased 0.4 percent year on year to an average 19.3 million barrels for its highest level for the month in eight years. Total motor gasoline demand increased 2.2 percent from March 2015.

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"Historically low gasoline prices continued to drive strong demand for gasoline in March," Erica Bowman, a chief economist at API, said in a statement. "In fact, demand for gasoline in March was the highest ever recorded for the month."

Federal data show the average national retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in March was $1.96, about 20 percent lower than in March 2015 and the lowest for the month since 2009.

Refiners, meanwhile, produced an average of 9.7 million barrels of gasoline per day in March, up 1.6 percent year on year for the highest level ever recorded by the API.

In a weekly market snapshot, motor club AAA said early this week it expected the upcoming summer driving season may be busy as historically low gasoline prices could encourage more drivers to take to the roads. A federal report from last week said consumer demand for gasoline is already at levels the market would normally experience during the summer.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the full-year 2016 average retail price for gasoline should be $1.94 per gallon.

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